Google in the UK owns about 90% of the search traffic. In the US that amount is over 65% and climbing. Google has rules under which it expects websites to operate otherwise they get removed from the index. Has removal from the index become the same as excommunication in our modern society?
In the medieval past, in Europe, the Church held sway. In order to do anything or get anywhere within society, one had to be a member of the church and had to come to the attention of the right people. The individual seeking attention did have to posses both the correct moral qualities and the correct social qualities in order to achieve any modicum of success.
Societal structure was quite regimented and with the exception of Celtic influenced lands, movement between social classes was limited. The church offered the possibility to escape the lower social classes (with notable exceptions) as well as offering a structure to life, belief and morals. Morals were not lacking in society before the church imposed theirs, and often they were more complex and restrictive and originated from many sources. The church changed all that.
Almost mirroring the rise of the church in European history, the Google search engine has risen to prominence within society. People no longer search online, they ‘google’ something. The rules governing inclusion in the index are adhered to almost religiously and they are broken at great risk to ones site/soul with removal from the index/excommunication the ultimate punishment.
There are those who have become fanatical devotees of this new religion and report those who violate the commandments to the church errr… Google in hopes of witnessing an excommunication. Being excluded from the church of Google carries a significant financial and personal expense, excluding the website from society. Google does give out indulgences and offers forgiveness – allowing transgressors back in to the fold like wayward sheep from their flock. The church of Google is mighty and pervasive but, like the church, not dominant all over the world.
The similarities between medieval Christianity and Google are striking and worrying. By following the progress of this phenomenon and witnessing as I have the Spanish Inquisition of the search industry, I find the future somewhat bleak. I can only hope that when Yahoo gain enough strength to nail the 100 theses to the door of Google, they too have enough exposure to survive the inevitable consequences.
Even in a modern society with almost ubiquitous access to the supposed freedom of the internet, we are still shackled by restrictions to that freedom. While some, to our societal morals are just and good, others are more grey. This married with the fanatics among the populous is what plagues my mind.
Perhaps in an industry populated with some of the largest brains around this progress will be halted and splinter groups will form early enough to rebel against the overt dominance of a single window on the web. Perhaps the struggle will become too costly and we will all live for awhile under the yoke of Google. Only time will tell.
This is not meant as a pop against Google nor an attack on a group or single individual. It is a thought piece meant to provoke inspection and introspection and perhaps debate. Personally, I love Google goodies, wear purple, ask questions and live well